Restaurant Review: Buitenverwachting, Constantia, Cape Town

Citrus Tartelette with Chocolate

And now for something a bit different (for me anyway)… Although restaurant reviews aren’t something I usually do, the other day I had such an amazing experience that I just couldn’t help myself. Before I knew it, I was taking pictures of the food, and then I was piecing together a review in my head. So here it is…

From the moment I arrived at Buitenverwachting, I was treated like royalty. I’d had a particularly stressful couple of days and was in the kind of mood where I didn’t feel up to achieving very much, so I resorted to my usual fall-back plan under such circumstances i.e. go out for a nice meal. I was actually about to take a spontaneous drive to the Winelands but as I was getting in the car, it occurred to me that we have wine farms right here in Cape Town. Buitenverwachting popped into my head and I somehow ended up there instead. Looking back, it seems clear that some Divine hand was gently shepherding me to where I needed to be.

As I hadn’t booked and the outside tables were all full, I ended up in the courtyard, which turned out to be very peaceful and just what I needed on this particular day. This was the view from my table.

View from my table at Buitenverwachting restaurant

For a slightly different experience, which will definitely require more forward planning, next time I will aim for one of the tables outside, with this view of the vineyards.

View from the outside tables at Buitenverwachting

I ordered a nice glass of Blanc de Noir from their extensive wine list, and then my main course. While I was waiting, I nibbled on some lovely and extremely light garlic and rosemary foccacia. The bread was served with a choice of butter or an absolutely delicious cottage cheese-type spread. Sadly at that point I hadn’t yet clicked into review mode, so didn’t take a picture or make notes on what was in it.

The chef then sent out a complimentary amuse-bouche (which literally translated means “mouth amuser”), an appetizer that certainly whet my appetite. It was a very fresh-tasting yellowtail carpaccio, served on chilled cucumber soup with minted yoghurt. Enter the phone camera…

yellowtail carpaccio, served on a chilled cucumber soup with minted yoghurt

When I’d finished that, a palate cleanser of berry sorbet with a sliver of dark chocolate arrived at the table (also complimentary). The tartness did its job and was completely addictive too. I could easily have eaten several more bowls of this.

Berry sorbet palate cleanser

When my beautifully presented main course arrived, I was blown away again. Meet the Roasted Pork Belly with potato gnocchi, pan-fried baby cabbage, caramelised apple, fine beans and celeriac and leek puree (R155). The combination of flavours was fantastic, with each mouthful a subtle taste explosion. The only thing I might have done slightly differently (if I was ever to go to the trouble of creating an extraordinary dish like this myself, assuming I even could) is perhaps to add some butternut or carrot to one of the purees to create a pop of contrasting orange on the plate. The clincher here was the delicious horseradish made by the chef, which was totally unlike any horseradish I have ever tasted.

Roasted Pork Belly

For those who aren’t a fan of pork belly, the main course menu has two sections – one “more rustic” and the other “more fine dining”, according to the waitress. The pork belly dish came from the “Rustic Affairs” menu, believe it or not, which also offered options like Fish and Chips (R115), Wiener Schnitzel (R145) and the Buitenverwachting Beef Burger (R95).

Dishes on the fine-dining, “Indulge” menu included Pan-Roasted Scallops (R315 as a main course), Grilled Beef Fillet with a Bone Marrow Crust (R210) and Grilled Loin of Springbok with a Prune rolled Fillet (R210). I watched a few dishes go out to other tables (restraining myself from jumping up and sniffing them) and they all looked delicious.

After a much-needed break (after all I’d already basically had four courses, including the bread), I decided I couldn’t not try a dessert, so went with the Citrus Tartelette with Chocolate (R75) from the “Indulge” side of the menu. This consisted of a pastry base with a thin layer of chocolate over it, filled with a lime mouse and topped with oranges, candied orange peel and a Grand Marnier truffle – another work of art.

Citrus Tartelette with Chocolate

Other options on the dessert menu included a seriously rich, multi-level chocolate confection (R95), vanilla panna cotta (R75)  and raspberry soufflé (R75), none of which descriptions come anywhere near to doing justice to all the elements described in the menu.

I was enjoying my post-dessert coffee when yet another complimentary dish arrived. (I hasten to add here that everyone got the complimentary dishes – it wasn’t just me receiving special treatment.) The board of mixed petit fours included a macaroon with berry filling, a strawberry with white chocolate, chocolate mousse in a shortbread pastry case, a peanut butter caramel bar and a fruit tartlet.

Petit fours

I will admit that I had to go home and lie down after all of that.

As you’ve probably gathered by now, I highly recommend Buitenverwachting for a special meal. The “fine dining” label certainly applies to every aspect from the spectacular food to the amazing service I received from my waitress, Tracey, and her very helpful assistant waiter (whose name I sadly neglected to write down). Tracey even went to the trouble of emailing me afterwards to let me know that the interesting side-note on the main course plate was horseradish, which I had been puzzling over. Full marks all round and I will definitely be back, next time with some friends so I can try more dishes. 🙂

Thank you to all at Buitenverwachting for that incredible experience. It was just what I needed to restore my body and soul, and I hope to see you again soon!

 

© Alexandra Lawrence and Inspired Nourishment, 2015

 

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